Cultivating Sattva (Purity)
All human beings are governed by three gunas: tamas, rajas and sattva, which stem from the essential aspects of nature—energy, matter and consciousness.
We humans have been vested with the unique ability to consciously alter the levels of these gunas in our bodies and minds. The gunas cannot be separated or removed from us, but we can consciously enhance or diminish them through the influence of material objects and the manner in which we live and by bringing awareness to our thoughts and actions.
The 3 Gunas:
Tamas is a state of inertia, inactivity – gratification of the five senses. Tamas is symbolized by darkness and stems from ignorance, distracting us spiritual growth. To reduce tamas, avoid tamasic foods, sleeping too much, overeating, inactivity, passivity and fearful situations. Tamasic foods include:
• heavy meats
•foods that are spoiled
• chemically treated, processed or refined foods
• onions, garlic and green chilies contain natural steroids and are therefore tamasic
Rajas is a state of energy, activity and change which strongly binds us to the fruits of our efforts, resulting in longings and attachments. To reduce rajas avoid rajasic foods, over-exercising, overwork, loud music, too much thinking and pursuit of material objects. Rajasic foods include fried and spicy foods and stimulants.
Sattva is a state of intelligence, balance, contentment and bliss. Sattva reduces both rajas and tamas, making enlightenment achievable. To enhance sattva, reduce both rajas and tamas. Eat sattvic foods and perform actions which result in positive thinking and bliss. Sattvic foods include whole grains, pulses and lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables that grow above the ground. Yogic practices were designed to create sattva in mind and body. The practice of yoga and a yogic lifestyle leads to sattva.
ParamahamsaNithyananda says, “Most human being are in rajas, the state of action, in which they are externally oriented – usually with some goal in mind. Work of any kind including housework, academics, creative arts, all indicate states of rajas when done with a goal-oriented attitude.”
While performing these actions, negativity will seem to surface from within, telling us what we are doing is meaningless. When you drop these negative thoughts simply because you don’t want to associate with them, you slip into the state of tamas (inertia). There is a disinclination to act; you lose interest in doing anything – you may just want to sleep.
People assume that moving out of rajas (aggression) – and straight into sattva (tranquility) is a natural progression. No, it does not work this way. When you move out of your normal active, aggressive behavior, you first fall into tamas or inaction. But when this shift is a result of meditation, you will not stay in tamas for long. You will move back into action – but this time with awareness, sattva. Significantly, the results of your actions: success or failure, will no longer be of concern you. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “You will act since you cannot but act, but now you will act without a purpose!” The results of your action will no longer be of relevance to you. All experiences will be viewed non-judgmentally and with non-attachment. Then, at the core, you will always be the state of Nithyananda, eternal bliss.